HC Deb 29 November 1906 vol 166 cc287-8
SIR H. COTTON (Nottingham, E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the number of chests of Bengal opium sold for export during the year 1895–6 was 37,695; whether the average number during the ten years ending 1904–5 was 43,417; whether the number for 1905–6 was 49,200; and whether the Budget Estimate for the current year 1906–7 provides the export of 52,000 chests; and whether, having regard to the Resolution of the House on the subject, and to the present attitude of China in respect to the traffic and use of opium, he will take measures which shall lead to the immediate reduction of this progressive increase in the export of Bengal opium, principally to China.


Owing to recent good seasons the supply of Bengal opium has been exceptionally large, and with a view to reducing the reserve, the sales have temporarily exceeded the standard of 48,000 chests fixed in 1901. I have given instructions that the area licensed for poppy cultivation should be diminished, and that the sales should be reduced at least to the standard of 1901. In 1895-6 and in preceding and suceeding years the sale standard was 54,000 chests, though the number of chests sold in any year depended on the yield of the crop. As regards the import of foreign opium into China, His Majesty's Government have stated that they will consider sympathetically any proposals which the Chinese Government may wish to make. † See (4) Debates, clxv., 1231.

MR. LYNCH (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)

Will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to reduce the opium trade in China?


I do not think I need take very much trouble about that. I am sure he is anxious to find ah effective means of dealing with this evil.

MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

asked whether, having regard to the Resolution of the House on the subject, means would be taken to bring the cultivation of the poppy in India to an end in a certain number of years.


I stated in debate what the views of the Government are. We cannnot—it is impossible—at once issue wholesale an order to cancel the regulations for a complicated industry.